We thought that it was from the regular fertilizing he does EVERY 6 Weeks. We keep the leaves off the drive and the main yard, but let all the rest do their thing. The trunks are becoming porous and rotted, Peeling bark is exposing the core and killing the tree, There is splitting, and excessive growth of lichens, fungus and mosses (not just on the north side of trees)  I started to notice all of this in 2013 and the damage is massive. Every leaf has a finite life span; each will fade and fall at some regular interval. Squirrels have territories so even though they don’t have exact mental maps of where they stashed each of their acorns, they have a perfect idea of where they ought to be able to find some later. Female oaks still in full dress, albeit brown dress. Other trees such as sugar maple are occasionally marcescent. American Beech. These clinging leaves must be driving my neighbor across the street crazy since he is out there almost every day once leaves start to drop sucking them up with his leaf blower LOL. Girdling also allows smaller trees to have the support and shelter of the girdled tree while no longer having to compete with it for nutrients and sunlight. Michael Snyder is the Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester. We read somewhere that some trees want to advertise nut and seed bounty to birds and seed hoarders in winter. Though they don’t have brains, plants do have seed dispersal strategies and the seed and nut eaters and hoarders play an important part. But there is great variation in the timing of this leaf fall. We are required to keep our sidewalks clear in Paterson. I am not sure if this theory also pertains to the Beech trees, but I will be watching next year, because this year they seem very persistent in their leaf retention. Too often these days, we are given junk science lectures (especially from government officials) claiming they know everything and ordering us to take actions which may do more harm than good to nature and the environment. I can see several of them clearly in the woods near my house. Other than an axe or chainsaw, is there a forestry tool available that makes “ringing” or cutting the bark in a circle off a tree a little easier task to terminate undesirable species for forestry management purposes? Dry leaves stay on marcescent trees because the leaves didn’t develop the normal abscission layer in autumn. You don’t often see leaves in winter way high up in a big beech tree. A related topic: acorns. They seem to be the same type. Some ecologists suggest that marcescence has adaptive significance for trees growing on dry, infertile sites. We don’t want the liability of passerby or the mail person slipping on leaves, acorns or snow. I’d be interested to know whether the failure to shed the old leaves when the new leaves grow is a problem or just part of a natural process? For a very long time, evergreen was the only way to be. This got me thinking about why these trees, oaks and beeches in particular, keep their leaves through the winter. Sure enough, that’s often where we see beech and oak growing well and outcompeting other species. I have always admired the Beech trees and how they hold their dried leaves all winter. Thus our colorfully famous, broad-leafed hardwood was born. We have had snow, freezing rain and temperatures in the single digits. Buds hidden by clusters of dead leaves do not get eaten and thus live to become new shoots and leaves in spring. I have a tree in my garden which I have always taken to be a white oak. I have also read that regardless of the weather, oak trees will produce bumper crops of acorns every second year. Can you offer an explanation as to why the flowering pear retains its leaves deep into December? Even small amounts at the right time could shift the competitive advantage toward these species on poor sites. A big and tall oak tree. The leaves come on sooner in the spring and shed much later in the fall. Being from Windhoek in Namibia this is a highly unusual tree for our environment, indeed I am not actually aware of any other in Windhoek at all. I’m surprised the writer didn’t mention ironwood or hop hornbeam, because it retains its leaves as well in the forest understory, much more so than oak, at least in Ontario. On the other end of the spectrum are deciduous trees, which seem to drop their leaves all at once after a pigment party every fall. Today I noticed that a shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria, a marcescent species) was losing leaves over time with some falling today, but no new growth is yet visible. I have wondered for years if the reason that Oaks and Beeches hold onto their leaves is because of the leathery quality of the leaves. Carl Demrow, Tricks of the Trade Columnist. Certain tree species show this characteristic more commonly; oaks, beeches, hornbeam, and witch hazel. I was wondering what causes these marcescent leaves to fall—that is, do they essentially “wear out” and get blown off, or do expanding buds push them off. Right now all the other maples are bare. Nice article. Marcescence is typically based on a tree’s genetics, but sometimes weather plays a part. As it seemed there are more beech trees with leaves this year than I have seen, I wanted to learn why. Last year I manually removed the dead leaves in late winter, which took some effort, but which the tree seemed to appreciate based on the strength of the new growth. In fact, the beech family includes many, get this, evergreen species (live oaks and tanoaks, for example, which do not grow in our region). Great article! I tell hikers that if they see leaves persisting in the forest in winter, then the tree is either beech or ironwood. My thinking is genetics developed over the years from perhaps a colder climate these trees were indigenous to originally. Excellent article, thanks! The process of shedding leaves is … P.O. Could it be also that they remain closer to being evergreens? Any thoughts? These beeches are not saplings. When it snows on the driveway and there are leaves beneath and you have freeze and thaw cycles, it’s slippery, dangerous mess for humans—who also evolved on this planet and have a place on it just like the birds and squirrels and chipmunks who sort their own living places to their liking in their own way and whose behavior frequently seems kind of crazy to humans. As if to hedge their bets against future change, trees began to develop different ways of doing what trees do, including new ways of growing and shedding their leaves. You don’t often see leaves in winter way high up in a big beech tree. Why Do Some Leaves Persist On Beech and Oak Trees Well Into Winter. So your article had made some sense to this mystery. In fact most other trees have already turned and shed before these leaves have even started to turn. My hunch is that this particular maple is growing near a beautiful beech and is jealous! Their leaves die, but many don’t fall when they die. But of course many are never recovered and so the mother tree’s progeny are distributed and planted by the squirrels to sprout in Spring. Very interesting article, often wondered about it myself. So it’s not just anal idiots who are the only ones that would like the leaves to drop conveniently all at once and don’t appreciate nature in it’s unbridled state. Marcescence may indeed be helpful to trees living in dry, cold, deer-infested environments. An axe can be effective on smaller trees especially in the spring when the bark is loose; for larger trees with tougher bark, a chainsaw is the right tool for the job. I’m wondering what causes this. It is almost July. To me it represents a natural symbol of warmer days to come. We have a couple of what I believe are big-leaf maples. Is there a chemical that will remove marescent leaves from a tree? Lyme, NH 03768 Many more than usual this fall. Tags: beech, leaves, oak, trees, vermont, wint. This year was phenomenal in number and size and quality. And we’ve also got the relative newcomers with short-lived leaves – birch, maple, cherry, and aspen, for example. Last year, not so much. Still others have hypothesized that persistent leaves might provide some frost protection for buds and new twigs over winter. Any ideas? With new growth in spring the old brown leaves stay on the tree and appear to interfere with new growth. In a word: marcescence. I find it astounding that no one has noticed how sick most of trees are in Vermont, Trees of all ages are not losing their leaves in the fall! Q: What is the small tree that has light brown leaves in winter? Notice that it is relatively easy to pull the winter leaf off these trees. A few oaks are native to the tallgrass prairies here…perhaps after a long cold winter the remaining leaves added nutrients to give the prairie grasses a boost? Nearly Native Nursery is one of … (603) 795-0660, All content © 2020 by the Center for Northern Woodlands Education. one in Paterson, NJ: massive 80 year old oaks that were clearly part of the original 1939 landscape design and a lot of wild cherry and maple saplings the previous owner let grow up on the perimeter of this corner lot as a screen. Each has its advantages and downsides, and over millennia, most species seem to have settled in to being one or the other. Rainfall is also primarily late summer with little or no precipitation in the winter, certainly no snow. Girdling a tree, as George described in the above post, is a technique used to eliminate poor stock and undesirable trees without the involved work of felling. Just curious, I was hiking in the woods one day and came across an ash tree with all its leaves still on it. I was able to identify a young southern sugar maple, or Florida maple in my yard today (early March) because it still has papery bleached leaves firmly clinging on. I have often wondered what causes this, as opposed to having one single trunk. Even having just one leaf on his lawn is a no-no. Kinda of gave me the creeps everything around it was dead. Beech and oak are believed to have originated in more southern climes and it’s been said that these species “have not yet perfected the deciduous habit.” The only thing strange about it was that the leaves were pure white. Thanks for the informative article. Today in our woods, we still have several evergreens, like pine, spruce, hemlock, and fir. Certain trees dress themselves to advertise. This article answered most of my questions, thanks. The females hanging onto the leaves is telling the squirrels they will find acorns down below, just as our beech trees are telling the birds where the beechnuts are and the sumac is telling the birds, you may not like the taste but in the dead of winter my red cones tell you where you can still fill your belly. I have not noticed this in white Oaks. –Nancy Rose, University of Minnesota. But there are far too many saplings too close together for all to flourish on this city lot so we’ve been removing them systematically for a year now. These are two strikingly different approaches. Like ecological pennants, they announce that beech and oak are not quite finished; that these species are still works in progress. My neighbor however has four large white oaks on my northwestern side of my property and I always get bombarded with their leaves in late winter and spring. OMG - A LEAF MAY BLOW OFF MID WINTER ONTO A LAWN. A: I’ll bet you’re seeing American beech, Fagus grandifolia, trees. We do not know whether marcescence provides a competitive benefit to beech and oak, but we do know that these two species are closely related; they are in the same family (beech). Email Us Or Call: Apart from being unaesthetic these areas of dead leaves harbor pests such as aphids and scale insects which afflict the tree during summer. I found many insight. If so, what is the purpose & which kind holds on to the leaves? IS there a way to strip the dead leaves from oaks? It also may not affect the entire tree; sometimes leaves persist only on scattered branches. Beech and oak are believed to have originated in more southern climes and it’s been said that these species “have not yet perfected the deciduous habit.”. 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